Jonny Bauer: Brands Need To Make Themselves Useful

Fri, 28 Sep 2012
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Credibility and purpose are two elements of brand positioning that Bauer is keen to stress: “The way we think about brands is around the idea of their purpose. It’s less about the brand idea – five years ago advertisers were always asking ‘what’s the big idea?’, whereas we like to ask ‘what’s the purpose?’ and ‘what’s the brand actually there to do?’

“There seems to be a large opportunity for brands to make themselves really useful to people, especially given the knowledge we have about people and what they’re doing, where they’re doing it and what they need. What can the brand do for people and what role does the product have in achieving that purpose?

“It’s about find a purpose which results in actions that the brand can take and it’s about ensuring that there’s real credibility in the purpose within the context of the consumer and their category because today there’s so many things that you can do with the technology, but it doesn’t mean you should do them or that it’s credible for your brand to do them? Finding that intersection of a credible ask – what are we asking the consumer to do? Does it make sense for your toilet brand to become your psychologist?”

Despite the inevitable hype around the coolest new site or social network, it might not make sense for brands to dive head first into every new social platform: “Once we’ve found a purpose that fits then it’s about deploying it around behaviours that really exist and not trying to create behaviours that don’t – we’re not going to ask people to make videos if they’re not video makers, it’s just not credible. It’s important to ask what people will really do and ask if people really want that brand to do that task or meet that goal for them.”

“CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) programmes are becoming an increasingly important part of the mix. As an agency we passionately believe that every year we should leave the world better off than how we found it. So whether that’s something for the Department of Education or Water and our work with the UN, we believe it’s our responsibility to channel our creativity to help make the world a little bit better.”

“It’s about adding value as a brand and not clutter because we know there are no clean spaces to advertise as a brand, so if we’re creating new spaces we need to add value, be that by entertaining someone, helping someone find a deal on a great cup of coffee or helping someone find a friend in a crowd of football hooligans.

“It’s all about what makes senses for this brand in helping this consumer in a way that they’ll welcome so there’s no waste. That’s the filter we use from everything from strategy down to deployment.”

With the myriad of new platforms and technologies for brands to experiment with, Bauer reiterates the need for brands to play a credible role in their customers’ lives: “A lot of new shiny toys come out which require significant behaviour change and we don’t always believe that brands can necessarily adopt them credibly, on a large scale and quickly. Advertising is about understanding how people behave, understanding how people spend their time and understanding their path to purchase and understanding the media.”

“With the Tap project, for example, we wanted people to give money to solve the water crisis but we know that people aren’t really into signing up on their credit card and giving money every month. They do enjoy free water when they go to restaurants and their wallets are actually open when they go to a restaurant, so we made it as easy as possible for people to act on their good intentions.”

The Changing Advertising Summit takes place 24 October 2012 – for more information and to book your place,